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Children's books

Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children. The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

New Evidence on Teaching Reading at Frustration Levels

For generations, reading experts have told teachers that they had to teach students to read at their instructional levels. Teachers were admonished that if they taught children with books that were too easy, there would be nothing for the kids to learn. If they taught with books that were too hard, then the reading instruction would frustrate rather than improve.

In general, that kind of advice makes sense. Spend all the time you want teaching me my ABCs and it won’t likely improve my reading ability at my advanced level of performance.

Stripes of All Types: An Interview with Susan Stockdale

Perhaps growing up in Southwest Florida inspired Susan Stockdale’s love of nature. Perhaps it was being the youngest of five that encouraged her to look closely at the world all around. In any case, Susan now lives near Washington, D.C. where she both illustrates and writes lyrical nonfiction for children, sharing her appreciation and unique perspective on nature familiar and extraordinary.

Susan, tell us a bit about your background and how it has influenced your current work.


Who Needs a Cape When You Have an Apron?

Welcome Jarrett J. Krosoczka to Book Life! New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, whose more than 30 published works include fabulous picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels, is also the creator of School Lunch Hero Day.

The P Word

Poetry has never been my favorite. It was something archaic you had to read at school. If it was presented as “Poetry,” I never particularly enjoyed it. I’ve always tried to read more poetry, but it was an effort. Though I love stories, I somehow couldn’t connect to the story in the poems I read.

But it has recently become clear to me that I’ve spent most of my life thinking in poetry.

— Those conversations I imagined the trees were having as I passed through the woods on the way home from school

Poetry

An Interview with Author Erica Perl

Erica Perl

A native of Vermont, Erica S. Perl now lives in Washington, D.C., where she writes a range of books for young readers. She has done very funny picture books, novels for middle grade as well as books for young adults, and most recently a novel in play form,

Reading in the Spotlight

Welcome Madelyn Rosenberg to Book Life! Madelyn is a mom, journalist, and the author of nine books for children. Her newest book, This Is Just a Test, with Wendy Wan-Long Shang, comes out on June 27.

Jason Reynolds: The Beauty of Words Is Magic

Gene sits down with award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds. They talk about the unusual story structure in All American Boys, the inspiration for the book, and how writing it emerged from a deep friendship (full of “uncomfortable, healthy conversations”) with his co-author, Brendan Kiely. With his book Ghost, Reynolds wanted to explore the whole concept of “running” — and what it means to run toward, or run away, from something.

Libraries Build Community: One School’s Memorable Project

It is wonderful to see creativity rewarded, especially when they will likely have a lasting impact. One such project was done with young children enrolled in the Jewish Primary Day School.

It was called the NC South Campus Community Library Project and started at the beginning of the school year.

I asked Janet Collier — who serves as the school’s General Studies 2-5 Instruction Leader and as the librarian — to write about this yearlong project and its results.

Books Beyond February

February is ending but that doesn’t mean the celebration of African American history should. After all, good books are good year round.

Plus, there’s evidence that sharing stories with children builds empathy. (Though the study’s focus was on fiction, I think that well-presented nonfiction for young children is equally powerful.)

Pages

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx